With 24 balls remaining and West Herts needing 31 to successfully chase down Leverstock Green A’s below-par total of 92, this year’s Watford Observer Fourteen14 Shield final looked set to go to the wire at Chipperfield Clarendon this evening.

The Stags’ task appeared more tricky three deliveries later when Tommy Wheeler (6) was caught off an impressive spell of bowling from Lewis Koch (2-16 off three overs) to give him a second wicket and leave the Stags six down. Enter Craig Sanders.

Within the space of the next 11 deliveries, West Herts’ number eight batsmen had not only turned the tide in his side’s favour, but sealed his side’s ninth victory in the competition by a four-wicket margin with an over to spare in devastating fashion.

Sanders only faced eight deliveries but he signalled his intent from the very first ball by smacking Koch for a straight six. The next delivery went for four as Sanders helped move West Herts to 74-6 and within 19 of the target with 16 balls to go.

In tandem with Rahul Gajjar (9 not out), Sanders kept the scoreboard ticking over off the first six deliveries of the next over. And then came the final onslaught; another big maximum before victory was secured with another boundary to leave the man-of-the-match on an unbeaten 26.

The way West Herts claimed their latest Watford Observer title was out of keeping with the majority of a low-scoring but compelling final for which their opponents took credit after blowing a promising start with the bat to force their way back into the contest with a strong display in the field.

Having lost the toss and been asked to bat, Green openers Sol Tomlinson and Koch started encouragingly, running well to move their side up to 30 without loss by the second ball of the fourth over when Tomlinson (11) edged Will Jones (2-12 off 3.3 overs) behind.

Koch (15) and Sam Revell (14) also departed before the midway point of the innings, but at 60-3 after seven of the 14, eight-ball overs Green would still have backed themselves to at least surpass a run-a-ball total of 112.

But captain Dayle Littlejohn’s (3) needless run out in the ninth over heralded the start of a collapse that saw the last six Leverstock wickets fall for just 22 runs due to a combination of poor decision making or shot selection and controlled bowling, in particular from Daniel Woosley, who claimed 3-12 from his three overs.

A total of 92 didn’t look enough – and so it ultimately proved – but the longer West Herts’ reply went on, the greater the sense grew that Green might pull off an unlikely victory.

They needed an early breakthrough and got one off the second ball of the second over when Damon Kerr (2) was trapped leg before wicket by Tomlinson. And after Jones (11) had struck a superb six in the third, Tomlinson also accounted for West Herts' other opener in the fourth over to leave them on 18-2.

The Stags still had time on their side but it was the introduction of Majid Khan and Koch that, until Sanders’ arrival, looked as if the game might swing decisively in favour of the fielding side.

Khan (2-18 off three) had Matt Smith (15) superbly caught in the seventh over, Koch continued to turn the screw by only conceding one run in the eighth and then Khan also claimed the wicket of Tom McCormick (16) as West Herts found themselves on 54-4 at the end of the next over.

That became 57-5 with only four overs remaining after Koch accounted for Richard Mason (7) to leave the outcome in the balance. But Sanders had other ideas.

Following this evening’s Shield final, the conclusion of the Plate competition is due to take place at Met Police’s ground tomorrow when holders Watford Grammar School for Boys face Bushey. Play is due to get under way at 6.15pm.